Coping with Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts are some of the most difficult thoughts to cope with, and we’re glad you’re here to learn more about how to cope with them.

Talk to Someone about Suicidal Thoughts Now

Like all thoughts, suicidal thoughts are fleeting and impermanent. Try these tips to get through a moment of crisis.


  • Talk with others about their lives
  • Exercise/go for a walk
  • Watch movie or television show that evokes an emotion that is different from what you are feeling
  • Color in a coloring book
  • Hold ice in your hand for 10 seconds


  • Get out of your thoughts and ground yourself to your physical reality by naming:
    • five things you can see
    • four things you can hear
    • three things you can feel
    • two things you can taste
    • one thing you can smell


  • Imagine your five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch
  • Choose one or more of these senses and soothe that sense. For example:
    • Sight: look at a beautiful nature scene
    • Hearing: listen to calming music
    • Smell: wear your favorite lotion
    • Touch: change into comfortable clothes
    • Taste: eat your favorite dessert

Improve the Moment

  • Create a perfect place in your mind where you can go to relax
  • Try to make meaning out of what you’re going through
  • Give your pain to any higher power you may believe in
  • Engage in progressive muscle relaxation
  • Mindfully focus your entire attention on a single task (e.g., washing your hands, walking to class, planning your next meal)
  • Take a mini vacation from your troubles (e.g., taking a nap, a bath, or a walk)

Think Positive

  • Make a list of things worth living for, such as:
    • Friends, family members, loved ones, and pets
    • Exciting events yet to take place
    • Memories yet to be made
    • Favorite items, foods, experiences
  • Repeat/meditate on positive affirmations. These may include:
    • “I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents.”
    • “I am doing my best.”
    • “Though these times are difficult, they are only a short phase of life.”
    • “I am indestructible.”


  • Talk to someone. This could be:
    • A friend or family member who serves as a good distraction
    • A friend or family member you can open up and be honest with
    • A professional, like a trusted UIC staff member, therapist, crisis hotline, or primary care doctor
    • An office on campus that can help resolve your distress (see ideas here) (external link to Additional Resources)

Make a Plan

  • Complete a Self-Reflection and Coping Plan. Write it by yourself or with a friend, and keep a copy with you so you can reference it any time you experience suicidal thoughts.

How to Make an Appointment at the Counseling Center

Dear Student,

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please stop long enough to read this. We don’t know who you are or why you visited this page, but we know that you are reading this right now, and that is good. It means that even though you may want to die, at the same time, part of you wants to live. We have known a lot of people who have experienced thoughts of suicide, so we have a small idea of what you might be feeling.


Thoughts of suicide are not chosen by those who have them. Thoughts of suicide happen when pain exceeds an individual’s ability to cope with pain. These thoughts do not make you a bad person; they do not make you weak or flawed. Their presence, though, means that you’re likely experiencing more pain than you can cope with at this moment.


We are thankful that you are here, reading these words, because we want to help reduce your pain and find ways to increase your coping resources. The following resources lend support in many different ways, but they all have a shared purpose: to give you more ways to cope and give you back the control that thoughts of suicide are taking away from you.